Cutting a fine step


Cutting a fine step

Stung to the quick, I resolved to learn to wiggle waggle and twing the hips as well as the other fellow, and quickly located a dance school (or ‘studio’ in trade jongo) with an exotic Spanish-Polynesian name.

I was ushered into the august presence of the school Honcho —a buxom matron on the wrong side of 50 who was built generously, rather on the lines of the dome of the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi and I wondered idly, how she had learnt to dance and get to the top of the heap. It would have required a JCB machine and a bucket wheel excavator to whirl her around the dance floor.

Pleasantries exchanged and over with, she asked, “Do you want to learn Ball, Charleston, Jive, Caribbean, Calypso, Break, Rumba, Hawaian Hula, Spanish Flamenco, Blue Tango or Romanian Gypsy?”

This was getting a bit thick. I was under the sanguine impression that modern dance consisted merely of gyrating and pirouetting like a drunken dervish, permanently dislocating one’s hips and ball-and-socket joints, and fetching up in an expensive and exclusive private nursing home for an extended sojourn and calling it a day well spent.
Apparently, there was more to it than that.

“Spanish Flamenco,” I said, sounding all modern, and covering up my crass ignorance. For eight lessons, the tuition fee charged was Rs 5,000, and certainly not in installments.
I was then introduced to a slim young lady who was to be my instructor. Smiling dazzlingly, she led me to the dance hall where a couple of other callow dudes were being put through their paces and learning to hotfoot, and I wondered if we shouldn’t all be wearing an ‘L’ board around ours necks.

Putting an LP record into the old jukebox, my instructor asked me a perfectly straightforward question. “Which is your left foot?”“This is,” I said, promptly pointing, of course, to my right foot. I was all confused and awed by the cathedral-like ambience of the dance hall. 

The instructor corrected me. “No, stupid,” she said, “THAT is your left foot. Now stand erect, your hands on your hips and raising yourself on the instep of your right heel, you swing your left hip through a tangential arc so that it is at an acute angle of 45 degrees with your right toe and swing your arms in a simple jarmonic motion.”

“I beg your pardon,” I said, stammering. I, who had been summarily cashiered from the junior division of the NCC for raising my left hand instead of the right to salute the visiting General was being asked to execute these complex manoeuvres. Anyway, after a hard grind the first lesson ended with my being able to tell between my right toe and left heel without tying myself up in knots.

So when am I going back for the next lesson? Well, not until I have rubbed some liniment on my bruised ligaments and the orthopedic surgeon has removed the splints from my torn Achilles’ tendon.

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